Galactic Languages in David Brin's Uplift Universe

As usual, this page - analysing language fragments from the end of some books - contains spoilers.

I am not skilled with languages: help would be greatly appreciated.

The purpose of this page is an analysis of the Galactic Languages. More information about the Uplift Universe can be found at:

These languages are "model languages" - languages created artificially with some purpose (fiction, logic, communications, etc). Check Jeffrey Henning's page dedicated to Model Languages.

Galactic Two

The Uplift Storm Trilogy has lots of sentences in translated GalTwo, from which the grammar can probably be grokked. In Infinity's Shore (Part Two, Sooners, Rety, p.80s) there are some untranslated GalTwo:

Galactic Three

The Uplift War has lots of sentences in translated Galactic Three. In Chapter 38, there are some sounds that escaped the vodor, and are probably a close representation of this language in human sounds:

... Cathtoo-psh'v'chim'ph...
 ...Kah-koo-kee, k'keee! EeeEeEE! k...
  ...Hisss-s-ss pop *crackle!*...
   ...Puna bliv't mannennering...

Galactic Six

Startide Rising, Chapter 63, has a long dialogue between Tom Orley and a dying Thennanin. The sentences are:

(Thennanin, from long distance) Barkeemkleph Annatan P'Klenno. V'hoominph? and, after a pause V'hoomin Kent'thoon ph?

(Tom's reply) Birkech'kleph. V'human ides'k. V'Thennan' kleph ph?

(Thennanin)Idatess. V'Thennan'kleeph...

After this, Tom comes close to the Thennanin who begins the sentence V'hoomin t'barrchit pa... but it continues with the English translation ... would not kill you, human, etc

The Uplift War, Chapter 9, has some sentences too:

(Kault, talking to chimps) Natha'kl ghoom'ph? Veraich'sch hooman'vlech! Nittaro K'Anglee! and Idatess! Nittaril kollunta...

Chapter 51 is probably also Gal 6. (Kault) Metoh kanmi, b'twuil'ph...

Chapter 82: (Kault) V'hooman'ph? Idatess!

My guesses:

Galactic Seven

k'chu-non (The Uplift War, Chapter 15) is probably wolfling in Gal Seven, and k'chu-non krann (Chapter 23) means wolfling army.

In Chapter 18 Uthacalthing curses the Gubru: Thwill'kou-chlliou!

In Chapter 27, Fiben counts in Gal Seven: Na... Ka... tcha... kresh...

Chapter 42, Athaclena says W'ith-tanna Uthacalthing bellinarri-t'hoo, haoon'nda!... and W'ith-tanna Uthacalthing!, probably meaning he lives (repeated in Chapter 85)

In Chapter 57, Athaclena curses Robert, in mixed Gal 7 and Anglic:
An... An-thwillathbielna! Naha... You... you blenchuq! How dare you... Cleth-tnub....
Cleth-tnub must be a very bad word, because Robert didn't know it and Athaclena doesn't provide a translation

Chapter 72: (Athaclena) Tutsunucann, s'ah brannitsun. A'twillith't... and, soon after, S'ah brannitsun, tutsunucann!, and, latter, A t'ith'tuanoo Uthacalthing! A t'ith'tuanine, Mathicluanna!

Chapter 76: (Athaclena) ...N'tah'hoo, Uthacalthing

Chapter 82, Uthacalthing says Puyr'iturumbul! when he senses Robert getting close

Chapter 91: (Uthacalthing) N'ha s'urustuannu, k'hammin't Athaclena w'thtanna! probably meaning "Daughter, do you send these to me, and so return what I had lent you? ..."

Heaven's Reach, Part 1, Rety, p.90 has the translation of solar sail: ntove tunictun

Galactic Twelve

Thennanin Dialect

Uplift War, Chapter 82 includes K'ph mimpher'rrengi, juvenile delinquent. It's probably in this dialect.

Other Fragments

In The Uplift War, Chapter 51, Kault speaks to a squirrel-like creature in a "highly inflected dialect of Galactic". Only the English translation is presented: Know you - sight-sound-image - an essence of destiny, yours? Little one? Carry you - genes-essence-destiny - the fate of star-treaders, your descendants?

Infinity's Shore, Part Three, Gillian, p.116s, includes some fragments in a Thennanin Dialect, in the dialog between Gilliam and the Library Unit stolen from the Krondorsfire . They are:

Heaven's Reach, Part One, The Five Galaxies, Sara, p.61, has more of this "eccentric dialect" (that must not be simple, otherwise Sara, a linguist/mathematician, would undestand it): I guess Ph'unglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! must be something in this language :-)


Page under construction. I have only completed the survey of Startide Rising and The Uplift War. Suggestions or requests are welcome

Created: 1998-11-01

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